A heart attack may occur if one or more regions of your heart are deprived of oxygen for a prolonged period.
A heart attack occurs when one or more regions of the heart muscle experience a severe or prolonged lack of oxygen caused by blocked blood flow in one of the heart blood vessels, damaging or killing heart cells. According to the American Heart Association, Americans have more than 1.2 million heart attacks each year.
Heart attack is also known as myocardial infarction (MI), acute myocardial infarction (AMI), ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI), non-STEMI, acute coronary syndrome, acute coronary and coronary attack.
The blockage that causes a heart attack is often a result of atherosclerosis, a buildup of plaque (fatty substances, cholesterol, calcium and fibrin in the inner lining of an artery).
Risk factors for heart attack include hypertension (high blood pressure), low levels of high-density lipoproteins (HDL) and high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) blood cholesterol, diabetes, family history of heart disease, increased age, cigarette smoking or tobacco use, stress, sedentary lifestyle, excess weight and a diet high in saturated fat and cholesterol.
If one or more regions of your heart muscle are deprived of a flow of oxygenated blood, you may have a heart attack. The symptoms you are most likely to have include:
- Squeezing or pain or discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts for minutes, which can radiate to the shoulders, neck, arms and jaw
- Chest pain that increases in intensity or that is not relieved by rest
- Chest pain that occurs with sweating
Symptoms can be vague and nonspecific, particularly in women and people who have diabetes. Symptoms of a heart attack can be confused with gall bladder attacks, gastro-esophageal reflux, stomach ulcers and even back or shoulder muscle pain and cramps.
Additional symptoms you may have include indigestion, nausea or vomiting; unexplained weakness or fatigue; cool, clammy skin; paleness; shortness of breath; dizziness; and a rapid or irregular pulse. If you experience any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately.
Why choose Ohio State for heart attack treatment?
The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center has been successful in reducing by half the time it takes for heart attack patients to receive specialized care, which is well below the national average time. Emergency cardiac catheterization and surgical therapy are performed 24 hours a day.
In fact, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has recognized Ohio State's Wexner Medical Center as a leader in heart attack patient survival rates. Ohio State is one of only 95 in the United States and one of only three in Ohio to achieve this level of performance. Our heart specialists follow national guidelines when treating heart attack patients to provide them with the safest, best possible outcomes.
In addition, Ohio State’s Richard M. Ross Heart Hospital is recognized as an Accredited Chest Pain Center by the Society of Chest Pain Centers (SCPC). Hospitals that have received SCPC accreditation have achieved a higher level of expertise in dealing with patients who arrive with symptoms of a heart attack. To become an Accredited Chest Pain Center, the Ross Heart Hospital engaged in rigorous evaluation by SCPC for its ability to assess, diagnose and treat patients who may be experiencing a heart attack.